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model behavior: shannon marie
A top plus-size model shares her story.

“You have such a pretty face. If only...”

This dreaded statement once haunted model Shannon Marie. But now, gorgeously curvy and and happy about it, she’s laughing all the way to the photo shoot. As a chubby child, she constantly heard what a knockout she’d be when she grew up and lost weight. Blessed with a beautiful face, flowing blonde hair, and the requisite height, this Baltimore native was discovered at a model search in 1996—which she starved herself to a size 6 to enter. Her struggle to stay slim, however, made her sick, both literally and figuratively, and she was dropped from her modeling agency after a year. Eventually, Shannon Marie joined Ford’s plus-size division, where she’s finally come into her own.

“After my first year of modeling, my struggle to stay thin resulted in kidney problems, so I put on weight. My agency dropped me. I joined another that put me in plus sizes. I was a size 8 to 10. Because I needed the money, I was also working in a cigar bar at night, and developed asthma from the smoke. That, in turn, made it harder for me to maintain my workout sessions—two hours in the morning and two at night—which I needed to keep my weight down. I was also eating junk. Meanwhile, my endocrine system weakened. My body felt abused and fought back. I didn’t feel well, and I gained weight.

“Once I got heavier, I felt better and started to really take care of myself. I’m currently a size 14, and my weight is fairly stable. My weight gain hasn’t hurt my career—quite the contrary. Since I have the money to eat what I should, I stay away from fast foods and often prepare my own meals. I like to cook and bake, and I tend to eat desserts less frequently if I make them myself because just creating them is so satisfying.

“When I was thinner, I wasn’t comfortable with my body. Now, I like myself, tummy and all. The problem isn’t with me; it’s with others. When you’re full figured, people treat you like a failure. Even when I was a size 10, they thought I should do more to lose weight, not realizing how much I was doing. There’s so much pressure to be a small size in this society, even if it’s not natural or healthy for you. People should understand that when you’re healthy, it doesn’t matter what size you are.”



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